Monday, November 06, 2006
How Diabetes is Diagnosed
Being knowledgeable about the symptoms of diabetes is a point of paramount significance. Just today at the hospital, I came across a patient who had type 2 diabetes. As our tete-a-tete concluded, he said he wanted to talk to me about his grandson.
He described to me an overweight boy who isn't physically active, is often thirsty, and urinates frequently. "These are the classic symptoms of diabetes," I told him. He said he would have him [grandson] tested as soon as possible so proper measures could be taken as necessary.
The symptoms of diabetes may begin gradually and can be hard to identify at first. These includes fatigue, excessive hunger, unplanned weight loss, blurred vision, and irritability. If you have any of these symptoms, get tested right away. Don't ignore these warning signs or convince yourself it could be something else.
I often hear people say, "I have blurred vision but I just need to change my glasses," or "I wake up several times at night to go to the bathroom but that's because of the other medications I take." Symptoms such as these can have different causes. But the point is that if you have them you should be tested for diabetes.
It may seem obvious that it should be easy to determine whether someone has diabetes. Too often, doctors watch blood glucose levels rise slowly, using the A1C (glycosylated hemoglobin) test as an indicator. The problem is, the A1C test does not diagnose diabetes and patients don't even seem to care and only take action when diabetes is already affecting their daily lives.
The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is made after:
- Fasting (no calorie intake for 8 hours) blood glucose test of 126 mg/dL or greater.
- Casual (any time of the day) blood glucose of 200 mg/dL or greater (with symptoms of a high blood glucose level).
- Oral glucose tolerance test, taken two hours after drinking a liquid containing 75 grams of glucose, of 200 mg/dL or greater.
Remember, it's up to you to know about the tests to diagnose diabetes, and to ask for them if you suspect you or someone around you may have diabetes.